Oldest Man-Made Animal Structures Found by Google Earth

It looks like simple mounds of earth from ground level, but when archaeologist Robert Benfer looked at Google Earth images of Peru, he discovered that they look like orcas, condors, and even a duck.

Archaeological evidence at the sites pegged the mounds at more than 4,000 years old - making them the oldest animal-shaped structures made by man:

Benfer discovered the mounds while looking at satellite photos of a site about which he'd long held suspicions. The feature seemed shaped like a condor, he said, but archaeological wisdom suggested that animal effigy mounds were a North-America-only phenomenon, with few exceptions, such as one at a Central America site in Mexico.

The satellite photos revealed furrows that looked like teeth as well as a burned charcoal area perfectly positioned in the spot where the eye of the bird would be. Global positional system (GPS) information and an archaeological investigation of the site convinced Benfer that he was, in fact, looking at a condor-shaped mound, with the eye likely being a site where offerings were burned. The condor is oriented according to astronomical rules: It lines up with the most extreme orientation of the Milky Way as seen from the Chillón Valley where the mound is found. [...]

The four large mounds are only the tip of the iceberg, he added — he has explored only five of the 54 valleys along the Peruvian coast and has found numerous smaller mounds, including ones shaped like orcas and even a duck. Many unexplored valleys likely hold more mounds, Benfer said.

"It's a totally unexpected find," he said. "It's especially unexpected to archaeologists like me who had walked over some of these sites before without realizing what we walked over."

LiveScience has the story:  Link

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